On Monday, April 23rd, Mike Graf, author of the “Adventure with the Parkers” series, helped kick off National Park Week in eastern Iowa. His books follow the Parker Family as they travel to national parks and meet colorful characters who teach them about the park’s unique resources and how to be better caretakers of them.
Graf started the day by delivering two presentations to third through fifth graders in the Moline, Illinois, school district. He then presented a writer’s workshop to high school students interested in writing their own realistic fiction stories. The park’s Teacher-Ranger-Teacher, Kristen Bergren, coordinated the school visits using a grant from Moline Council for the Gifted.
That evening, Graf traveled to the Hebert Hoover NHS in West Branch, Iowa, for an evening program at the West Branch Public Library. Children’s activities prior to the presentation played on this year’s theme of “Picture Yourself in a National Park” as Graf shared stories from his own adventures in national parks that inspired his writing.
This successful event was simultaneously a celebration of a newly strengthened partnership between the park and the West Branch Public Library. This past winter, park and library staff worked together to incorporate park-related lessons and values in already existing library youth programs, in addition to launching an after-school program called “Get to Know Your National Parks.” Many of the participates at the evening event were regular attendees to the after-school program, which made Graf’s visit an extra special conclusion to the program for this school year.
By the end of the day, over 500 students, teachers, and parents had participated in Graf’s presentations making it known that National Park Week has official arrived in eastern Iowa.